Raids versus Fleet Ops

Massively OP ran a Daily Grind post last week about raiding.  Those are sort of their regular “questions for the audience” posts.  The question was whether people avoided raids in the MMO and why.  It seemed like a setup for some back and forth between those who enjoy raiding and those who fail to find pleasure in it.

I chimed in with a short comment about how I have never felt as lost an ineffectual in an MMORPG as when I have been on raids.

My raiding experience is long in the past, with a lot in TorilMUD then some in EverQuest and EverQuest II many years back, along with a bit of LFR in World of Warcraft.  Even that last bit, which is pretty much raid tourism as opposed to actually raiding, just reinforced how I ended up feeling in raids as time moved along.

Garrosh Awaits… back during Pandaria

None of my reasons for avoiding raiding stray very far from the usual list of gripes, from time to guild drama to time commitments to return on effort to just not having fun.

A raid group from back in EQII

I much prefer my MMORPG content in a smaller group.  Dungeon runs with 3-6 people, people I know, is the right path for me.  Not playing with strangers does mean that I do not end up knowing a lot of people in game, and the strangers I do end up meeting tend to be the very aggressive and demanding sorts who give interacting with people in MMORPGs a bad name.

None of which ought to be a surprise to any long time reader here.

Which, as usual, leaves EVE Online as the odd man out as, to put this in the format used on Twitter:

  • Me: I don’t like large group content!
  • Also me: 250 person fleet op? Count me in!

It is true.  While I am reluctant to join in large group activities in most MMORPGs, it seems to be what I do most in EVE Online.

And some operations include multiple 250 person fleets

And it isn’t like there isn’t solo and small group content in EVE Online.  A five person gate camp is very much a thing as are small group roams and a wide variety of other options.  And solo PvP is very much an primary occupation for some.  New Eden offers opportunities for groups of all sizes.

So why the big groups for me?

I think it has to do something with a sense of purpose.  There is very much a correlation between the number of people that are called for to fill out an operation and the certainty of its purpose.  You can get 20 people easy to go camp a gate for a bit or for a roam.  On deployments an FC can get 40-60 people on a quiet with the idea of going to shoot a structure in hopes of getting the defenders to form for a fight.

But when you start pinging early and often for a fleet and want 250 people, or maybe multiple fleets of 250 people, the intentions tend to be pretty concrete.  We’re going to blow something up, like a Keepstar or a Sotiyo or an opposing group has an operation planned and we’re going to drop in and shoot them.  Some specific content is on the menu and, while it doesn’t always come to pass, the agenda is generally short and clear.

Nobody calls for a huge fleet then says they want to go on a roam and see what turns up.  Well, not if they want to keep a fleet that size under their command.

There is also room for a range of skill levels in big fleets.  When you have a small group camping a gate everybody needs to be somewhat competent.  But in a 250 person fleet there is enough slack to cover those still learning.

The line members of the fleet, flying the DPS ships of the doctrine being used, are often derided as being “F1 monkeys,” but you have to start somewhere.  But some people are perfectly fine in that role.  I tend to favor flying in the logi wing, which is more demanding, but sometimes I too like to just shoot things.  It can be fun to just let the FC take you someplace and tell you what to shoot as you watch the pretty battle.  (And all the more so with the 64-bit client where you can leave your graphics turned up so the battle is actually pretty.)

You don’t have to be the main line DPS person.  A fleet has plenty of other roles for the experienced and novice alike.  It can be fun to just fly a target painting Vigil, getting on kill mails while sailing around the fleet at high speed.  And, at the other end, your average FC is busier than any raid leader.  You can find the level of effort/responsibility/skill that works for you.

And then there is scheduling.  In a big coalition fleets run all around the clock.  I don’t have to dedicate specific nights of the week to fleet ops.  In fact, I can be quite haphazard about my fleet participation.  If I sit down at my computer and have some free time, I’ll take the next fleet that pops up on Jabber.

I will set aside time for specific objectives.  If there is a Keepstar kill coming I’ll block that time off to make it.

So in this, as in so many things, EVE Online is an outlier, the game that doesn’t quite fit the roles of the genre.

Of course, fleet ops are PvP, so that changes things as well.  There is something more akin to raiding in New Eden.  They are called incursions, and I have tried that as well.  While they can be lucrative, it is not nearly as much fun as the chaos of live enemies.

5 thoughts on “Raids versus Fleet Ops

  1. SynCaine

    Honestly Incursions aren’t really like raiding. Sure both are PvE content in a larger group, but that’s about it. Incursions are about getting ISK, which you can do in a large number of ways in EVE. They are efficient (if run well), but don’t offer anything you can’t get from grinding lvl 4 missions or mining. In contrast, you raid for raid gear, and you want that raid gear so you can gear up for the next tier of raiding.

    You can easily jump in and out of Incursion groups. In a raiding guild (especially a progression one), either you are at pace or you might be left behind. Not saying one is better than the other, but IMO the key motivations and requirements are pretty different.

    Fleets work for you because they aren’t ‘progression’ content; it doesn’t matter how many fleets you have been on or how rich you are in EVE, the fleet experience is still there for you. Also as you said, there is something nice about always having the option to be an F1 monkey with its lack of stress and just being able to ‘be there’.

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  2. bhagpuss

    I feel much the same way about traditional PvE raiding. Although I think there’s a lot more variety across various MMORPGs than SynCaine’s suggesting and it differs quite substantially from game to game, in the end it usually does come down to getting gear upgrades and it seems like a stunningly inefficient and long-winded way to go about it. I don’t hate it but it almost always seems to be a lot more trouble than it’s worth.

    Back when people actually cared about winning matches and taking and holding territory, GW2’s world vs world operated very much as you describe Eve Ops, albeit on a vastly smaller and more transient scale. I used to love playing that game mode then for almost all the same reasons you list. Unfortunatly a series of seemingly endless poor decisions by ANet have all but completely destroyed the game mode (something CCP seem to have taken note of and apparently decided to emulate from what I’ve been reading…).

    I do think the PvP element there enhances the whole process. It somehow seems to make everything feel more immediate. Even though I am truly terrible at one-on-one PvP, in the bigger battles there are roles for all skill levels and playstyles and I can usually find something useful to do.

    As far as PvE goes, I vastly prefer large, raidlike open world events like Rift’s rifts and invasions (especially the invasions, which in the first few months after launch were the highlight of the game for me) or GW2’s many large scale dynamic events and world bosses. EQII’s public quests are an interesting hybrid between a semi-formal raid structure and a true open-world event. Any of those is a lot better than “real” raiding.

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  3. Shintar

    As someone who actually likes raiding I thought that MOP post was about as inviting a discussion starter as “So, why do you beat your wife, sir?” Just an excuse to get their mostly anti-raid audience talking among each other.

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  4. Archey

    I’ve been on all three sides of this: fleet ops in Eve, raiding and enjoying it, and not particularly caring and/or having time to raid. I agree with Shintar’s assessment of the tone of the article, but one thing I think they get right is the misguidedness of dumbing down or nerfing mechanics to drive interest in raiding.

    Anecdotally, but with many anecdotes, I have never heard of someone bowing out of raiding because it’s too hard. It’s almost always a lack of time, and in fact perceived difficulty (to a point, of course) and the pride of overcoming it is a major factor in making raiding worth the time spent.

    I think the fundamental problem with driving interest in raiding is the same one the plagues all group activities: getting more that 1-2 people to clear their schedules all at one time.

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  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Shintar – Yes, it did seem to invite that, along with the follow on post from Eliot about how difficulty isn’t the real barrier to raiding for a lot of people, it is what people turn into when you put them in that environment. I had a raider come here and call me names because I posted about running the LFR version of the Pandaria raids. An easy mode diminished their achievement. That doesn’t mean all raiders are like that, but there can be a break between having aspirational content and having people who want to keep that content to exclusive to the self-proclaimed elite.

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